Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
For those uninitiated in the bizarre and fun-filled world of the Lonely Island, let me give you a quick bit of background, and bear with me, this is all relevant for Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, as this troupe wrote, directed, and starred in the techicolour offering up on the big screen. The comedy trio is made up from Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg, and Jorma Taccone, childhood friends that came to prominence from their digital shorts before being snapped up by Saturday Night Live. Their irreverent mix of music and comedy soon led to a fairly high profile following, and whit teaming up with SNL they soon had the resources and connections to get celebrities involved in their work, resulting in such hits as the Michael Bolton fuelled “Jack Sparrow” and “I Just Had Sex” featuring Akon. This brings us to Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, the natural progression of their talents and genre.
The movie is co-directed by Schaffer and Taccone, with Samberg up front and centre in front of the camera as the titular Popstar himself, Connor 4 Real. What unfolds is essentially a This is Spinal Tap for our times, with a very similar plot arc and style, as we are served up a mockumentary of the music business in the 21st century. Now, this isn’t to say that this should be compared with the classic Spinal Tap, such comparisons would be unfair, however are invited by the very nature of the film. Is this as good? No, it really isn’t, but if you can forgive it that, it really is a fun, and at times hysterical and cutting riff of the music business and celebrity.
The plot, such as it is, revolves around the rise, fall and rise again of Connor 4 Real, former member of the Style Boyz, a trio of childhood friends that formed a band and found success (obviously I have no clue at all where they got inspiration for this). When creative differences break up the band Connor heads out on his own, and after one monstrously successful solo album, we join the fun as he’s promoting the release of his second, and for the first time wholly self-penned, album. After surrounding himself with yes-men, and gold-diggers, cue some hilarious songs that are so ill-conceived and borderline offensive that his career comes off the tracks, and sets him on the redemption road, and the inevitable reuniting of the Style Boyz.
Samburg plays this entitled oaf to a tee, and walks the line very well so no matter what his dreadful actions are, we never totally lose empathy for him. add in a stellar cast of cameos, good support work from Tim Meadows as his manager Harry, and Sarah Silverman as his PR agent Paula, and you have a very funny, if not too deep night out. The other real strength of the movie is the music. The Lonely Island have perfected their brand of silly songs over the years, and as a result the soundtrack is not a half-arsed attempt by committee, rather the songs are tight, well produced, and although ridiculous lyrically, will still have you wanting to download a track or two once the credits have rolled.
So far so glowing on the review front, so what is wrong with it? Well, it lacks the depth of Spinal Tap, and that innocence that is maybe needed in this sort of movie. The barbs are never all that sharp, this being very much a product of the industry it mocks, and there is a feeling that by using cameos from so many of what are considered “global superstars” of the music business, it’s claws are dulled somewhat. Yes, the folks involved are very willing, and the cameo from long-time Lonely Island contributor Justin Timberlake is a real treat, but you do feel that by using these well known faces something of a cutting edge is lost.
If you take this film for what it is, you will have a fantastic time watching it. It isn’t going to change the world, or even the cultural zeitgeist the way other films in this genre have, but the jokes are on target, and songs are fun. Head along to the cinema and catch this whilst you can, because like its namesake, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a spectacle worth seeing loud and proud with no apologies given.
- Big brash laughs.
- Pretty good pastiche of modern music and celebrity.
- Surprisingly good tunes.
- A somewhat dulled bite to the satire.
- Comedy dipping a little low at times.